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Susan Casey's novel, The Devil's Teeth, is simple to read and understand. It tells the fascinating story of the natural Farallon Islands, with a focus on the scientists who research the island's great sharks. The author also aims to include a short social and cultural history of the islands after the Gold Rush. Chapter 1 in particular provides a wealth of information about the plot, enabling the reader to comprehend the events that occur as the story progresses.
The first chapter depicts a journalist visiting a small island off the coast of California. Casey is hosted on the island by Peter Pyle and Scot Anderson, two biologists who tend to bunk down at every shark season on one of the island’s habitable building. This is an old house of 135 years, that is sparkled with gull guano and lichen. Two day in the island, she gets lucky by getting her first glimpse of the sharks up close. As a result, she is fascinated by them, which later grows into an obsession. This particular chapter shows the interaction between Casey, Peter and Scot through a series of conversations that revolve around the island and the sharks. Casey describes the weather in details as the three of them sip coffee. Peter and Scott explained to Casey of a shark by the name of Stumpy that dominated the Farallons. For instance, when Scot was initially putting out the various decoys, Stumpty would them show up and destroy them. The author also explains that Peter is a brilliant surfer having started out at an early age. She explains that Peter grew up surfing at the Oahu beaches, and that every day after coming back from school he would run to grub his surfing board. Surprisingly, all individuals taking part in this Shark Project is a surfer.
The author uses different figures of speech with the intention of stressing various points to the reader. Firstly, she uses simile. This is a stated comparison that is normally formed through the use of words such as like between two essentially dissimilar things that tends to have specific qualities that are in common. For instance, Casey uses simile when she says “He set the video board adrift off East Landing. Right on cue, like some battle-hardened test pilot, Stumpy gave it everything she had” (Casey, n.p). In this particular description, the author describes that the shark named Stumpy positioned the video board in such a manner that a professional would, enabling the surfers to obtain unique footage of the white sharks while under the water.
Secondly, the author used personification as a figure of speech. This was described by the author when she said “Stumpy made her movie debut in the BBC documentary I had seen, and won Scot an Emmy for cinematography” (Casey, n.p). The shark is given a human trait by being described that it appeared in public as a performer. The author goes ahead to explain that “Stumpy resurfaced and gave the bobbling pieces a fierce backhand with her tail, before swimming off grumpily in search of real food” (Casey, n.p). The author personifies the shark by explaining ways in which it appeared on the video as an entertainer.
Another figure of speech that has been used by the author is a hyperbole. This is by using exaggeration with the intention of emphasizing on something. For instance, in this particular chapter, the author writes “And while other sharks would take twenty minutes or more to consume their kills, Stumpy could polish off a five hundred-pound elephant seal in three minutes flat” (Casey, n.p). The author exaggerates by using the word polish and also three minutes flat to describe that Stumpy could finish odd an elephant seal in a less amount of time when compared to other white sharks.
Use of an understatement is another figure of speech used by the author. The author used the words “more attacks by great whites had taken place in this pocket region than in all other shark hot spots of the world” (Casey, n.p). An understatement is normally used when something is said with the intention of making something appear less serious or less important. In this particular case, Casey used the words pocket region which depicts a small area. However, in reality, the area is extensive covering a vast area covered by sea. Despite this fact, the author used an understatement to explain the gravity of the matter owing to the fact that the region had more great white sharks attacking human beings when compared to other regions of the world that were considered as shark dominated.
The main theme in chapter 1 is the theme of natural world. The author carefully observes and represents the natural world, raising the reader’s consciousness of about nature and the various environmental problems on a more practical level. Through conceptual representation, Casey has helped the readers understand the relationship between human beings and the natural world. For instance, in this particular case, the author describes the surrounding environment of the island including the weather and the landscape. In addition, she also explains about the dangerous sharks and their interactions. Earlier on in the chapter, the author describes about the areas surrounding the island. She states “Peter’s weather prediction held. As the light came up and I stepped outside I saw that the fog had dissolved, the ocean was unveiled, and the jagged contours of another Farallon, Saddle Rock, were crisply in focus for the first time since my arrival” (Casey, n.p). In this particular statement, the author brings out her view of the natural world as she had observed and interacted with it.
In conclusion, it is evident that the author has used different figures of speech and themes in chapter 1 with the aim of getting the reader’s attention and preparing them for the unfolding events in the story. Author by the name of Susan Casey tends to travel to a place known as Farallon islands with the intention of meeting the great white sharks as well as the biologists who tend to study them. In this particular chapter, she tends to interact with two great biologists by the name of Peter and Scot who seem to heighten her desire for the sharks. The chapter is well written and captivating having incorporated different styles in a bid to attract the reader’s attention. The chapter explains how dangerous the white sharks are, and why the Farallon islands are regarded as some of the most dangerous in the world.
Casey, Susan. The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks. New York : Owl, [Godalming], 2006. Internet resource.
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